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Inked ladies: Vintage photos of women with full body tattoos
12.15.2014
08:08 am

Topics:
Art
Feminism
History

Tags:
tattoos

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The 1991 discovery of the well-preserved body of a 3,000-year-old corpse revealed (amongst many other things) that ancient humans tattooed their bodies. The mummified body was called “Ötzi the Iceman” after the Ötztal Alps where his remains were found. Ötzi had 50-odd tattoos across his body, which some scientists have suggested may be evidence of an early form of acupuncture—which if true, would put this form of treatment 2,000 years before its first documented appearance in China.

Tattoos have a long and culturally significant history—being used as a sign of initiation, association, clan, tribe, ownership, or sexual and personal liberty.

In Victorian times, upper class women had their bodies tattooed as a symbol of their independence. In her book Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoos, Margot Mifflin believes this was a “feminist gesture” with these women “taking control of their bodies when they had little power elsewhere.” Winston Churchill’s mother Jennie had a serpent tattoo around her wrist as a symbol of her feisty independence. However, not all Victorian women who sported tattoos did so willingly. Mifflin reports how some poor women were forcibly tattooed and exhibited in freak shows and carnivals.

The first recorded woman tattooist was Maud Wagner, who was said to have traded a date with her future husband to learn the craft of tattooing. In the 1920s, full body tattoos were popular, but their charm was lost during the 1930’s Depression, only to re-emerge during the late 1940s to 1960s, when they were seen as a symbol of outsider status.

These vintage photographs show tattooed women from early in the 1900s to 1960s.
 
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More tattooed ladies, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Suffragette City: Propaganda posters reveal the horrors of women’s rights!


A lotta guys would pay good money for that.
 
The panic surrounding women’s suffrage managed to exacerbate masculine anxieties to such a perverse degree that you have to wonder just how terrified of women men actually were. They seemed to believe that all it took to upset the apple cart was access to bourgeois politics, then, we’d wreak havoc! Soon enough, reactionaries predicted, womenkind would be enslaving their husbands, abandoning their children and domestic duties, assaulting men on the street, invading political institutions and… wearing pants! Clearly, this made for amazing propaganda.

More insidious than the fear of masculine ladies and feminized men is a single depiction of a huger-striking suffragette being force-fed. There is a gleeful look in the eyes of the posh man pouring soup down her throat, and a menacing one in the eyes of the cop holding down her legs. Force-feeding is a torture that was administered to suffragettes like Alice Paul, much to the glee of misogynistic sadists. One would hope that such a barbaric practice would be abandoned by now—especially considering how ineffective torture actually is—but it appears the US remains reluctant to give up on the tradition.
 

 

Detail from above image.
 

 

 
More of the horror of women thinking for themselves after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Rock Against Racism: On the front line with The Clash, Specials, Undertones & Elvis Costello

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It all began in 1968 when an old Tory coot Enoch Powell gave a racist speech against immigration and anti-discrimination legislation at his West Midlands constituency in England. Powell claimed he was horrified at what he believed was an unstoppable flow of immigration that would eventually swamp the country where “in fifteen or twenty years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.” It was an incendiary and offensive speech full bile and hate, and became known as the “Rivers of blood speech” because of Powell’s quotation from Virgil’s Aeneid about “‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’”

Many of the white working class supported Powell, most shamefully the London dockers’ union staged a one day strike in his favor. Powell became the pin-up of the far right and his words appeared to sanction their rise, in particular the odious neo-Nazi National Front that promoted its racist policies with the boot as much as the ballot. Against this rose Rock Against Racism—“a raggedy arsed united front” co-founded by Red Saunders, Roger Huddle and others in 1976.

At first, Rock Against Racism was just an idea—a way to bring together a new generation of youth against the stealthy rise of the far right. It may have remained just an idea had it not been for Eric Clapton announcing during a concert in 1976 that the UK had “become overcrowded” and his fans should vote for Enoch Powell to stop Britain from becoming “a black colony.” Allegedly Clapton then shouted “Keep Britain white.” His racist tirade led to Saunders and Huddle writing a letter to the music paper NME pointing out that half Clapton’s music was black. The letter ended with a call for readers to help establish Rock Against Racism. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

In April 1978, 100,000 people marched across London in support of Rock Against Racism, which was followed by a concert at Victoria Park headlined by The Clash and the Tom Robinson Band. It was a momentous event, which singer and activist Billy Bragg correctly described as “the moment when my generation took sides.”

Photographer Syd Shelton documented the rise of Rock Against Racism during the 1970s and 1980s from its first demonstrations, the concert in Victoria Park, to the gigs, bands, musicians (The Clash, The Specials, The Undertones, Elvis Costello, etc), the young activists and supporters who stood up and proudly said: “Love Music, Hate Racism.”
 
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More rocking pictures against racism, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The bloody horror of Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol
12.04.2014
09:47 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
horror
theater
Grand-Guignol

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Long before audiences paid to be thrilled by the horror of slasher movies, splatterpunk and “video nasties,” there was a theater in Paris that provided such grisly, bloody spectacle of the most extreme kind almost every night. Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol was infamous for its horrifying productions of murder, torture and most gruesome death.

Grand-Guignol literally means “theater of the great puppet,” a reference to the venue’s early productions using puppetry similar to Punch and Judy shows. The theater was situated in the Pigalle district of the city in a converted old church, the interior of which still contained many of the building’s original religious features—confessionals converted into boxes, overlooked by statuary and gothic design—all of which created an eerie and nerve-tingling ambience.

If the interior thrilled, then the productions, mainly written by André de Lorde who wrote some 150 plays during his life, were guaranteed to deliver the most bloodthirsty and outrageous horror. De Lorde’s stories usually featured the criminally insane, the deranged or those under some kind of hypnotic trance that allowed him scope to depict the most horrifying deeds as these were the actions of the abnormal or the unhinged. Audiences flocked to see the shows, at times screaming out if the drama went too far. However, some have claimed that these shows allowed Parisians to feel something, anything, in a way their ordinary lives did not.

The Grand-Guignol was popular up until just after WWII when the real horror of the war brought a decline to the public’s taste for brutal, bloody fictions. These photographs, mainly from the late 1940s, give a great sense of the kind of spectacle that amazed theater-goers when they visited the Grand-Guignol.
 
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More from the theater of blood, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Visible Girls: London’s lost female subcultures

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Lynne and Penny at home in Kingston, March 1981.
 
In the early 1980s, photographer Anita Corbin documented the “informal uniforms” of young women’s subcultures across London. Corbin photographed rude girls, rockabillies, mods, skinheads, and some “less defined” female groups including soul, rasta, punk and futurist, as well as those involved “in and around the women’s liberation movement.”  Her photographs were exhibited in a traveling exhibition organized by the Cockpit Gallery Project called Visible Girls in 1981.

In her introduction to the Visible Girls exhibition, Corbin wrote:

In this project I turned my attention to more personal visual details and I became increasingly interested in the effect appearences have on everybody’s lives.

The way we use dress as a means of communication/identification and how it can both inform and misinform us.

I have chosen to focus on girls, not the boys (where present) were any less stylish, but because girls in “subcultures” have been largely ignored or when referred to, only as male appendages.

Corbin discovered that for these young women belonging to a subculture was not just a weekend hobby but a whole way of life.

More than thirty years later, Anita Corbin has reconnected with some of the women in her photographs, but would like to contact them all, if possible. If you recognize yourself or any of these women, then you can contact Anita here.
 
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Kath and Em, at home in Putney, October 1980.
 
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Simeon and Simeon, at the Orchard Youth Club, Slough, March 1981.
 
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Charmine and Janice, at the Orchard Youth Club, Slough, March 1981.
 
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Rockabilly girls, at Shades, Manor House, February 1981.
 
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Titch and Sylvia at home in Sudbury, March 1981.
 
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At the Marquee club, December 1980.
 
With thanks to Elizabeth Veldon, via Buzzfeed.
 
More of Anita Corbin’s ‘Visible Girls,’ after the jump….
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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1948 NYC pot bust caught on film. Arrestee has a mean case of the giggles
11.25.2014
07:39 am

Topics:
Drugs
History

Tags:
marijuana
New York City
pot


 
As public support for the decriminalization of marijuana grows, states are loosening restrictions left and right and the US is making its slooooooow crawl towards sane drug policies. Yes, we still have a long way to go before we’re able to proudly and patriotically blow bong rips in a cop’s face, but I believe it’s healthy to acknowledge our progress and reflect on the enormous precedent of drug panics we’re gradually counteracting—so let’s check out some vintage newsreel from a drug bust in 1948!

In this dramatic Telenews short, five men and one woman are arrested for their stash of 60 “reefers” (joints) and $2,000 worth of bulk weed! That’s $2,000 in 1948, and the weed was probably terrible back then! This was before mandatory sentencing guidelines for pot, meaning these folks had no idea what kind of jail time or fines they might receive, and yet, they don’t seem particularly worried! One dude in particular can’t stop laughing; what a curiously inexhaustible humor he has!

Despite what was then the prevailing public perception of pot as a volatile gateway to psychosis and/or heroin addiction, our jovial drug dealers’ neighbors appear unruffled by the bust, and like true New Yorkers, they immediately start discussing the newly vacant apartment.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Watch a ten-year-old Gore Vidal pilot an airplane, 1936
11.24.2014
06:04 am

Topics:
Books
History

Tags:
Gore Vidal
aviation
kid
child


 
The late Gore Vidal was so many things during his life. Groundbreaking author! Master of belles-lettres!  Committed progressive! Gay (but-sort-of-not-really because he conceived of sexuality as inherently genderless, but whatever)! Kind of a sexist, rape-apologist piece of shit! But hey, remember that one time he pissed off William F. Buckley so bad that Buckley called him a “queer,” and threatened to punch him? That was pretty cool, right? And that other time when Norman Mailer head-butted him? That was good times!

Well, you can add “junior aviator” to Vidal’s long list of accomplishments! The video below shows both Eugene Vidals—Junior and Senior, the latter who was an Olympic Decathlete, Professor of aeronautics at West Point, one of the first pilots in the US Air Corps, and he was an original captain of industry who broke the ground for commercial airlines (it’s also widely believed—and reported by Gore—that he had an affair with Amelia Earhart). The short is a bit of a stunt to alleviate public fears about flying, produced in partnership with the federal government—-notice the “Department of Commerce” logo on the side of the plane. Little Gene’s role is just to show us that flight is safe and simple—why even a future-literary-genius-child could do it!
 

 
h/t Connor Kilpatrick

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘The Complete Zap Comix’ box set is the greatest thing in the history of the world, ever


 
Over the Halloween weekend I was visiting my family in Wheeling, WV (it was my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary) and I needed to buy a cheap one-hitter to help get me through it. There’s only one place to buy that sort of thing in my hometown and this would be Wheeling’s sole smut emporium, the very downmarket Market Street News.

Thirty-five years ago, in better economic times for that town, Market Street News was still a dirty book store, but back then it also sold bongs, rolling papers, fake drugs like “Lettuce Opium” or “Coke Snuff,” British rock mags, National Lampoon, biker rags like Easy Rider and Iron Horse, High Times and a small handful of underground comics. A bead curtain separated the front of the shop from the over 21 area and the place smelled heavily of incense, cigarettes and Pine-Sol. It was here, age 11, where I bought my first issue of High Times, the October 1977 issue with Johnny Rotten on the cover and the now infamous “Ted Nugent shits his pants to get out of the draft” interview. What kind of degenerate sold a little kid High Times?

Let me assure you that I was not an innocent child. By that age, I’d already read Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce!!, I owned a copy of Naked Lunch and had already tried getting high (unsuccessfully) by eating fresh ground nutmeg and morning glory seeds, something I’d read about in that book’s infamous index section. I wanted to do drugs, I just didn’t know where to get ‘em (aside from “Lettuce Opium,” which yes, I admit that I tried.“Coke Snuff,” too!)

I couldn’t “score” real drugs, but at the age of 11, in a low level smut shop in a podunk West Virginia town, I was able to get my mitts on something equally mind-expanding (and only slightly less illicit): Zap Comix. Lewd, crude, incendiary, mind-blowing in the extreme and incredibly smart, I embraced Zap Comix wholeheartedly, even if I, a sixth grader, was considerably younger than the audience of “adult intellectuals” it was ostensibly intended for.
 

 
Although Zap founder Robert Crumb himself was already a very well-known and widely respected artist and counterculture hero by the time I discovered Zap in 1977, I can’t image that it was too much earlier than 1973 or ‘74 that something like Zap Comix would have had the kind of distribution that would have allowed it filter down to small town America. The first (#0) issue of Zap came out in 1968. Not every small town had a head shop at that time, of course, and even when they did, carrying Zap Comix—which presented some completely insane stuff, images WAY more perverse than anything that was being cooked up in Denmark or Sweden at the time—was probably not worth the heat it would bring, especially in that line of work. If they can bust you for selling bongs, why carry filthy and obscene comic books to further tempt fate?

Most people probably found out about Zap generally around the same time I did, no matter what age they were. Unless you were living in a big city or in a college town, it would have been highly unlikely to have encountered it otherwise. This is why I associate Zap with the punk era. At least that’s when a copy first made it into my young hands.

Crumb did the first two issues on his own before ultimately assembling a “Magnificent Seven” of the best underground artists around—San Francisco poster artists Rick Griffin and Victor Moscoso, Marxist biker cartoonist Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton (the creator of “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers”), painter Robert Williams, the demented S. Clay Wilson and later, after Griffin’s death, Paul Mavrides, known for his Church of the Subgenius graphics. The Zapatistas were a sort of “supergroup”—the dharma warriors of comics. Inkslingers. Revolutionaries. The best of the best. Their only yardsticks for comparison were each other and that sort of fraternal competition raised the bar and kept their art constantly evolving and their social satire razor sharp.
 

 
Like punk (and Burroughs, Lenny Bruce, Firesign Theatre and John Waters) Zap Comix kind of helped to deprogram me at a young age during my rustbelt Christian upbringing. My deeply religious parents never looked twice at my “funnie books” but if they had they’d have been utterly appalled, finding between the covers of Zap Comix characters like S. Clay Wilson’s gay pirate “Captain Pissgums” who liked to have his crew of perverts, um, piss in his mouth or the “Checkered Demon,” a randy devil cheerfully doing the most obscene things that I’d ever seen depicted on the printed page. It was shocking then and it’s equally shocking today.

Take a look at this short piece from S. Clay Wilson titled “Head First”—IF YOU DARE.

See what I mean? Remind yourself that this strip is now nearly half a century old. The reason I linked to it is because embedding it would probably have made our advertisers very nervous about what kind of people we are! Crumb’s Zap contributions were never as out and out repulsive as Wilson’s, yet he was still utterly fearless in portraying his own infantile sexual fantasies and neuroses (and finding willing groupies to help him act them out along the way. Which he then wrote about in subsequent issues of Zap. Heavy meta…).

The goalposts have moved quite a bit over the decades as “obscenity” has been redefined by culture, AND YET that vile, hilariously fucked up strip has lost virtually none of its power to offend. This is only one of the reasons to love S. Clay Wilson—whose work ultimately sets the tone of Zap because his is the wildest, most feral and least compromising—his willingness to basically puke on his reader’s sensibilities, no matter how “far out” they think they are. The sole purpose is to be brutally offensive, no more no less. You can look for something deeper, go ahead, but I’m not sure you’re going to find it in a piece like “Come Fix” (click for pdf) in which a lesbian biker chick injects semen intravenously with an interesting result.
 

The front and back cover of Zap #14 by S. Clay Wilson
 
In the context of the late 1960s that was something both sickening and ENLIGHTENING. And it had nothing whatsoever to do with flower power or hippie. Zap Comix was cynical and dark, twisted and perverted, full of “gags, jokes, kozmic trooths.” Zap wasn’t interested in persuading you of anything, it wanted to beat its epiphanies into you.

This is another reason I see Zap Comix as being aligned with punk, because philosophically-speaking it was. Indeed in its crudeness, lewdness and desire to shake its readers out of their complacency, Zap anticipates punk (and a lot of other things!) and surely would have influenced many of punk’s prime movers who undoubtedly were exposed to it.

Anyway, when I bought my one-hitter, I got into a conversation with the guy behind the counter and I mentioned that I used to buy Zap Comix there when I was a kid. Then the very next morning in the hotel I read an article in the New York Times about how Fantagraphics were publishing the complete run of Zap, along with a sixteenth and final issue, in a deluxe slipcase box set weighing over 20 lbs, complete with sixteen high quality giclée prints of each Zap Comix cover.
 

The front and back cover of Zap #13 by Victor Moscoso
 
I immediately wrote to Fantagraphics fab director of publicity Jacq Cohen and requested a review copy of The Complete Zap Comix. It was sent Fedex two-day shipping, which seemed to me to be the longest two days of my entire fucking life. An eternity. In fact, it ended up being a day late, and by that time, I was truly salivating over the prospect of its arrival. I was not disappointed. I’m a man with a lot of toys and The Complete Zap Comix went immediately into my “prized possessions” category. If you’re reading this thinking “Yep, I need that” trust me, you do need it. However, as far as pricey Christmas presents to yourself go, you might not want to wait for Santa to lay this one under your tree because it’s probably going to sell out. Only 2500 have been printed and from what I can tell anecdotally from how many friends of mine are buying it, it won’t last long.

The irony of turning something that was once sold in dirty bookstores into a $500 collectible is delicious, but I can’t think of a more deserving title than Zap. The production quality of The Complete Zap Comix is first rate and the pages are clearer than they’ve ever been, blown up to 9.75” x 13.25” and painstakingly cleaned up digitally. Everything comes in a sturdy, gold-embossed slipcase and there’s a separate book dedicated to “The Zap Story,” an oral history/scrapbook that also reprints some Zap rarities and “jams” where each of the artists would complete a frame or two—upping the ante in the process—and then pass it on to the next guy.

In the title here, I declare that The Complete Zap Comix box set “is the greatest thing in the history of the world, ever” and I’m only semi-exaggerating. Seeing the whole of the Zap run laid out like this, it seems obvious—so very, very obvious—what a profound and truly American cultural treasure this is. This is great art of historical and cultural importance that changed people, blew their minds and inspired them. I know that it changed ME. Zap Comix deserves to be reappraised and valued for what it’s truly worth and Fantagraphics has done an amazing job with this stunning box set.

Now the Smithsonian Institute needs to step up to the plate while the remaining Zap artists are still alive and kicking against the pricks and give them their due. It could happen. It should happen. Let’s hope it does happen.

Below, one of the greatest—and most eerily prophetic—comics EVER by Gilbert Shelton, “Wonder Wart-Hog’s Believe It or LEAVE It!”...Um… he could be talking about TODAY’s America, here, couldn’t he???
 

 
More classics from Zap Comix after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Painting by Adolf Hitler expected to fetch over $60,000 at auction
11.21.2014
06:14 am

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
Adolf Hitler

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It’s strange to think that when Adolf Hitler was struggling to eke out a living as an artist in Vienna during 1913 and 1914, he was residing in the city at the same time as Joseph Stalin, Leon Trotsky and Josip Broz Tito. With this in mind, it’s not too difficult to imagine that Hitler and Stalin could have easily passed each other on the streets during their early morning walks. While Hitler painted, Stalin was in hiding as a wanted revolutionary, Trotsky was writing political tracts as editor of Pravda and Tito, the future dictator of Yugoslavia, was working as a chauffeur and part-time gigolo.

One of those paintings done by Adolf Hitler in Vienna is expected to make over $60,000 when it is sold at auction this Saturday. The picture is a 100-year-old watercolor by the future Nazi leader of Munich’s old city hall. According to Kathrin Weidler, director of the auctioneers Weidler who are handling the piece, the painting has raised considerable global interest because it is a signed work by the Nazi leader.

The painting is being sold by two elderly sisters whose father originally purchased it in 1916. The picture is being sold with its original bill of sale and a signed letter from Hitler’s adjutant, Albert Bormann, who was the brother of Hitler’s private secretary Martin Bormann.

Bidding is expected to start at around $5,000, but Ms. Weilder believes the painting will reach over $60,000 and perhaps even double this figure. However, she says the painting is of minimal artistic merit and is uncertain if bidders for the Führer’s artwork will attend the auction in person. Which raises the question, who would want to spend over $60k on for something on the level of a doctor’s office painting by such an evil man?
 
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Via the Independent.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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New boxed set reveals John Coltrane created ‘terror’ during final tour with Miles Davis, 1960
11.20.2014
08:05 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Miles Davis
jazz
John Coltrane

All of You: The Final Tour, 1960
 
In 1955, Miles Davis hired an up-and-coming musician named John Coltrane to play in his group. Over the next couple of years, the team-up produced some incredible music, but the personal relationship between the trumpeter/leader and the saxophonist was never steady. Backstage at a gig in the spring of 1957, Miles slapped Coltrane and then punched him in the stomach; Trane’s only response was to quit the band.

Coltrane returned to join Davis’ sextet later in the year, but during that short time away he had continued to make a name for himself as a group member, bandleader and recording artist in his own right. Trane played on Miles’ Kind of Blue (1959), now considered one of the cornerstones of the jazz genre, and accompanied Davis on a European tour in 1960, but mentally he was focused on his own music. Miles later admitted Coltrane “was ready to move out before we left.”
 
Kind of Blue
 
The spring 1960 European tour was spread out over twenty cities in nine countries. The new boxed set, All of You: The Last Tour, 1960 includes recordings from eight of those performances. Though the Quintet sounds fantastic as a unit, Coltrane’s solos are so unusual they caused quite a stir at the time. Kind of Blue is a lovely record that is also easy on the ears, but Trane was doing his best to make this music sound ugly.

Journalist Frank Tenot witnessed the first show of the tour in Paris: “People were very surprised why there was no John Coltrane like on Kind of Blue. So, part of the audience thinks that Coltrane doesn’t play too well, that he was playing the wrong notes, involuntarily.” Tenot went backstage after the show to tell the saxophonist, “You’re too new for the people… you go too far.” Coltrane just smiled and said, “I don’t go far enough.”

Other critics who witnessed the shows wished that Trane had held back. One reporter called his solos “scandalous,” and wrote that they “bore no relationship whatsoever with playing the saxophone.” Another writer was so horrified he equated Coltrane’s solos with the very concept of “terror.”
 
Trane in pain
 
As the leader, Davis takes the first solo during every song on these recordings, and as much as I dig Miles—his solo turns are as interesting and as exquisite as ever—after a couple of tracks, I found myself waiting for Coltrane to step up and blow me away. And he would do just that. Every time. It’s fascinating to hear him push the material—and thus, the band—especially as this was Miles’ group, not his. The fact that we now know he had mentally moved on from his role with Davis, as well as facing negative reactions to his output, only makes listening to these tracks all the more absorbing.
 
John Coltrane and Miles Davis
 
The Miles Davis Quintet returned to the states on April 11th, and it wouldn’t be long before Coltrane would make his exit. By then, Trane had made a name for himself and was well on his to becoming one of the titans of jazz.
 
John Coltrane
 
Some of the recordings on the boxed set are taken from radio broadcasts, while others were captured privately by audience members. Initially, my expectations were somewhat low as far as the fidelity of these live tapes—which date from over a half century ago—but aside from a couple of muddy sounding tracks and occasional issues with how the musicians were mic’d, the sound quality ranges from very good to surprisingly great. Hear for yourself, as we have an exclusive preview track, an up tempo version of “So What,” recorded in Stockholm, Sweden on March 22nd, 1960. The faster beat and Trane’s dissonant solo result in something excitingly different than the subdued mood created for the familiar Kind of Blue version. Enjoy.

All of You: The Last Tour, 1960 will be released on December 2nd.
 

 
Here’s a 1959 TV clip of “So What” played at a pace that more closely resembles the one found on Kind of Blue, but with Coltrane beginning to stretch, feeling his way towards the type of solos he would play on his final tour with Miles:
 

 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
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